How to save money via adherence? Let us count the (possible) ways

That there's money to be saved on healthcare spending--and lots of it--is not in question. Exactly how to save that money through further generics use and better prescription adherence is what patients, pharmacy benefits managers and drugmakers alike are trying to figure out.

A new study released Thursday by CVS Caremark claims almost $20 billion could be saved if more people switched to generic options and stuck to their drug-taking regimens, Forbes reports. The study's findings show that Texas alone could save $1.4 billion through wider generics use. But where Big Pharma is concerned, the real puzzle involves saving patients money through taking more branded drugs, not less. The companies are after a solution for getting patients to stick to their prescriptions. Doing so ultimately helps the treatments better do their jobs and could save the healthcare system $105 billion per year on avoidable hospitalizations, ER visits and more, according to an IMS Institute report from earlier this month.

So what can be done? According to Forbes, CVS Caremark has highlighted its unique position as a pharmacy benefits manager with a large network of stores, which allows it to combine the data it has from managing prescriptions with information from patients at its pharmacy counters and potentially influential pharmacist-patient relationships. "When you can marry data and insight with face-to-face data that's when you get a huge multiplier effect," Helena Foulkes, CVS Caremark's chief health strategy and marketing officer, told Forbes.

As the Forbes piece points out, that data could also allow CVS to go even further in adherence assistance with solutions like putting an automated pillbox in a patient's home. Within the next year, the company is hoping to launch analytics software targeted at those less likely to keep their prescriptions filled, which could save as much as $7,000 for some Medicare patients with other indications of illness.

And then there are the mobile solutions like Sanofi's ($SNY) diabetes app GoMeals, which, in addition to tracking blood glucose levels, also includes features for eating healthy and staying active. And this week, according to MobiHealthNews, gaming company Ayogo hinted that it was working on a Type 2 diabetes game for a major pharma company that "integrates a broad prescription compliance program along with a diet and exercise program," CEO Michael Fergusson said. Ayogo has also explored other digital solutions like peer-to-peer diabetes adherence support for college students, a subset of patients it believes is more responsive to messages than games.

- read the Forbes piece
- see the MobiHealthNews story